Harvest is beginning…
Where has summer gone? The golden rod that is swaying in my meadow as if in a dance with the Queen Anne’s lace is in full bloom. The crickets are busy chirring and the birds are stopping to fuel up on their way South. The baby raccoons and groundhogs are all grown up and fending for themselves.
The baby pileated woodpecker was caught begging for food yesterday from its parent, even though he is just as large as they are. The nights are getting cooler and maple leaves are finding their way to the green carpet all over the farm. Harvest time is beginning and my days are about to get busier.
Yes it is that time of year again when my garden is bursting with zucchini. I turn my back for a moment and the zucchini has doubled in size. I find myself looking for new homes for this versatile vegetable. One hint always call and ask if your friends or neighbours want to take in your zucchini first. Sometimes they can take up an entire shelf on the fridge.
Of course it is best to try and pick them while they are still young but it never seem to happen that way. No matter what I always end up with a few the sizes of dirigibles.
As a chef I love to find different ways to prepare this vegetable. To me it is the tofu of the vegetable world.
Here are a few suggestions!
- Deep fried zucchini served with a blue cheese or chipotle dip
- Zucchini coins with Parmesan
- Stuffed baked zucchini
- Marinated with balsamic and grilled zucchini
- Zucchini pancakes and fritters or waffles
- Stir fried Asian zucchini or tempura battered
- Zucchini fries coated with panko or cornmeal
- Zucchini coins with sun dried tomatoes and goats cheese appetizers
- Zucchini ribbon salad with vinaigrette and herbs
- Tossed into pasta
- Zucchini hash
- Use Zucchini in omelets or quiches
- On top of pizzas or as the base for a pizza
- Zucchini and spinach soup
- The one dish that Zucchini fails at for me was pickles. They became soggy.
The best part about zucchini is that it can be used in baked goods such a muffins or bread pudding and now we come to Zucchini Bread.
Every year I make this delicious fast and easy zucchini bread. You can pull it together in minutes with ingredients that you have on hand. This loaf freezes beautifully and I make 2 so that there is one in the freezer for company. If you have too much zucchini on hand just grate it and freeze it for later use. I add blueberries, nuts or frozen cranberries if I have them on hand. I also put some granola on top after it has been in the oven for about 15 minutes.
TIP: If you find that Zucchini is very watery, gently press out the excess fluid.
My garden is bursting with zucchini and every year I make this delicious fast and easy zucchini quick bread. You can pull it together in minutes with ingredients that you have on hand. I love this zucchini bread because it is very moist and is not too sweet.
If you have too much zucchini that you can’t use just grate it and freeze it for later use. I add fresh or frozen blueberries or cranberries and toasted nuts to the batter. This loaf freezes beautifully and I make 2 so that there is one in the freezer for company. This quick bread is also delicious toasted.
Farmhouse Zucchini Bread
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups all –purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1-teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice (optional)
2 cups grated zucchini- yellow or green
2 large eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten
1/2 cup orange juice (and I put in some zest as well)
1-teaspoon pure vanilla
1/4-cup neutral vegetable oil
1/2 cup toasted chopped nuts (optional)
1 cup of cranberries or blueberries (optional)
1. Mix together sugar, flour, salt, and baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin pie spice if using in large bowl.
2. Stir in the grated zucchini, beaten eggs, vanilla and orange juice and oil. Add the nuts and/or berries at this point.
3. Mix well until all the flour has disappeared.
4. Bake at 350 degrees in a greased 9 x 5 loaf pan about 1 hour, until toothpick inserted in loaf comes out clean.
5. Tip out of pan and cool on rack.
6. Enjoy while warm and this bread toasts beautifully the next day.